You’re going for the food (tacos!), mezcal and lively vibe of the city. We’ve focused on Roma and Condesa, two of the more hip and popular areas for now. More to come soon.
Mexico City has a lot of people in it, which makes for bad traffic. Do not plan to zip around the town as you’ll be exhausted spending time in traffic. Do plan your days by neighborhood.
Uber is ridiculously inexpensive, so make sure you have a phone that works or pre-arrange for a taxi from your hotel. It’s said that hailing a taxi from the street is unsafe, so avoid that.
Airport Call an Uber or arrange with your hotel to have someone pick you up. It can take 30 to 60 minutes to the Roma/Condesa area depending on the traffic.
good to know
DF vs CDMX Mexico City recently changed its name to CDMX from DF (Distrito Federal), so don’t get confused when you see both.
Food specialties Tacos al pastor—shredded pork with pineapple; Chapulines—fried grasshoppers.
Drink specialities Mezcal and pulque (more info below).
Best time to go November through April. The rainy months (when it can flood) are May until October.
A young, hip and beautiful part of the city that’s divided into Roma Norte and Roma Sur, this is one of the more popular places to be right now. It’s within walking distance to Condesa or a quick ride.
eats & drinks
Contramar On Fridays, this seafood restaurant is the place to be for lunch. Go at two or three (with a reservation) and spend two to three hours feasting on tuna tostados—a must—and the house fish with both green and red sauces.
Tacos Albaro Obregon The perfect evening or late night (post drinking) tacos. The setting is casual and the tacos are delicious.
El Hidalguense An experience for the books. It’s only open Friday through Sunday during the day and serves incredible barbacoa, a speciality from Hidalgo, just north of Mexico City. The service is friendly, the atmosphere casual and lively and the food delicious. Beware that the hot sauces are very hot and when they ask if you want it spicy, they don’t mess around.
El Parnita Great tacos in a casual setting, it serves food until seven at night, so go for a late lunch before you head out for drinks.
Fonda Fina From the chef behind Quintonil, this casual yet chic restaurant serves a modern take on traditional Mexican cuisine. The ingredients are high quality and the food delicious, but it is more of a restaurant that you would find in New York or LA than something you can only find in Mexico City.
Rosetta An Italian-inspired restaurant set in a beautiful building with greenery filling the inside—there’s a tree in the courtyard area—it’s more refined than the others on this list. The food is well executed and top quality, but it’s more of a place to go if you’re tired of eating Mexican food and want a change than somewhere you must go to experience the local food scene.
Rosetta Panaderia While Rosetta might not be a must, the chef’s bakery located down the street is. You’ll notice it by the line emerging from the door as people wait to get fresh pastries—the ricotta and guava one is not to be missed—breads and coffee. There is a counter for seating, but those are coveted and hard to get.
Eno From the chef behind Pujol, Eno serves high quality, modern Mexican food with a healthy twist in a beautiful setting. Expect wooden tables, rustic decor and a familiar, modern feeling when you step inside that’s probably because, similar to Fonda Fina, it feels more like a restaurant you would find in the states (it feels a lot like Gracias Madre in LA). There are two locations, one in Roma Norte and one in Polanco.
Mercado Roma Similar to a modern-day food hall with various food and drink stands (and a beer garden in the back), this hangout spot is popular and a sign of the modernization of the city. Worth checking out if you’re nearby, but don’t go out of your way to go.
Campobaja If you are good looking, wealthy and slightly hipster, then you will most likely spend some of your weekend here. (Yes, you can still go if you don’t fit in that category.) The rooftop restaurant is open air with lots of lush greenery, friendly and efficient service. The food is good but most people go for small bites and drinks in the late afternoon.
Gin Gin A spacious and lively gin bar that focuses on craft cocktails and small plates, it’s less of a traditional Mexican feel than you might be looking for, but it serves great drinks with a buzzy scene, so it’s worth a visit if you like gin. Reservations are recommended.
Traspatio Walking into Traspatio feels like you have disappeared into a secret garden, away from the busy streets. It’s a perfect place for a relaxing drink.
see & do
Mercado el 100 On Sundays, there is a fantastic organic farmers market that sells local goods and food. It is small but there’s a lot to do (and eat). Go hungry as there is a taco stand that offers vegetarian, meat and seafood tacos with sauces that should not be missed. We loved the comal stand that sells molcajetes and cubes the shape of ice that can sub for ice to keep drinks cold without diluting them and filter water (buy them).
Plaza Rio De Janeiro A small park with a beautiful fountain that’s near Rosetta panaderia. You can sit there and enjoy your pastries.
Colima Walk up and down this beautiful street to browse the shops, enjoy the architecture and gorgeous trees that decorate it.
Trafico Bazaar On some Sundays, there is a market of high quality local goods, from handmade shoes to jewelry, to snacks and helados (ice cream!). It’s on the corner of Colima and Orizaba, around the corner from Rosetta Panaderia. Check their Instagram for more info.
A hip and beautiful residential part of town with tree and greenery-lined walkways in the center of most residential streets (good for running, too). Staying here means that you are within a 15 to 20 minute walk to Roma or a quick cab ride.
eats & drinks
La Lavanderia The more sit-down sister restaurant to La Clandestina (below), you can (and should) make dinner reservations here, especially for Thursday nights. Note: it gets popular around 9:30/10 pm.
Ojo de Aqua A juice shop, mini grocery store and restaurant that serves health-focused Mexican cuisine is where you will want to start your mornings and have brunch. There’s an express restaurant two doors down from the main restaurant so you can grab a juice or snack to go (you’ll find chia seed puddings and fresh fruit cups with actually great fruit, not that filler fruit nonsense). The restaurant itself can get pretty busy for brunch on the weekends—be prepared to wait 30 minutes or so, which isn’t so bad when there’s the pretty fountain across the street or the park around the corner.
Fonda Mayora From the chef of Nicos comes this casual yet refined restaurant that serves elevated home cooking. Enjoy the mezcal bar being wheeled to your table, the friendly wait staff who will help you navigate the options and then chow down on the delicious dishes like chilaquiles, bone marrow and fish in mole sauce. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
El Farolito While it is a chain, the tacos at this fast casual spot are on point. Try the tacos al pastor and make sure to sample the salsas available at the bar.
Azul With two locations, one in the historic downtown in the new downtown Mexico hotel/complex and one in Condesa, Azul serves traditional food in an almost fine-dining fashion. Your cochinita tacos (pulled pork) will be arranged in a neat, pretty mound on top of tomatoes cut in a fine dice and topped with pickled red onions. Tortillas, made in house, are served on the side so you can fashion them yourselves—it almost feels more like a fork-and-knife situation than a make-your-own taco, but it’s not pretentious and the food is high quality. Definitely a good place to take the parents or a date.
Lardo From the chef of Rosetta, Lardo mimics a French-style cafe with framed glass floor-to-ceiling windows and a buzzy, bistro vibe. Late afternoons, especially on the weekends, are crowded with good looking people drinking and eating. The food is good and probably a good idea if you have overdone it on tacos.
Chiquitito Cafe While this tiny cafe will make you feel like you’re transported to New York, they serve delicious coffee—the kind you can taste even after it’s all gone. You’ll find chia seed pudding, yogurt and granola and sandwiches. Both indoor and outdoor seats are available.
Health Food Cafe/Store Origins seems to be the name of a string of health food stores, but this one is on the corner of Huicapan and Popocatapetl is great. It serves meals of pre-made salads and health-focused dishes, and it’s also where you can by the probiotics you forgot and the coconut oil you want to rub on your dry skin.
Street Food You probably have friends that tell you to go to the corner of so-and-so for the best tacos/chilaquiles/etc they have ever had. And they are probably right. Walking down most streets around two or three in the afternoon, you’ll find people lined up to get food from pop-up street food stands, and they are delicious. Check out the one on the corner of Michoacán and Amsterdam, in front of the supermarket Superama.
La Clandestina A mezcal bar that features local artisanal producers in a series of colorful and eclectic rooms. The music is equally as colorful, giving the room a vibrant and magnetic energy. It’s somewhere you want to spend the night and drink. It is cramped and small, so not meant for the claustrophobic set. The food comes from the restaurant next door and is delicious, but you can also snack on salted pepitas in their shell or the chapulines (fried grasshoppers).
Hotel Condesa DF The rooftop restaurant and bar at the top of this boutique hotel is almost always busy with tourists and locals who enjoy the comfortable day beds or circular banquettes with views of the city and mountains in the distance. Make a booking if you can.
see & do
Cibeles 72 A cute shop that curates pieces from different Mexican designers, you’ll find everything from dresses to jewelry and bags to sunglasses.
Parque Mexico The larger of the two park, it has a lovely fountain and gorgeous space for dogs to run free, surrounded by cream-colored columns and magenta bougainvilleas. Both offer outdoor fitness centers with weightlifting and workout machines (non motorized ones). Sundays are buzzing in the park with families pouring out enjoy the weather and all sorts of crafts and vendors set up for kids to enjoy. This is probably better to do a few running loops.
Parque Espana The smaller of the two parks, it’s good to sit for a quick break on one of the benches or watch the dogs gathered there.
Condesa DF In an ideal location, this hip, well-designed hotel is a perfect place to stay. The service is casual and friendly, and the rooftop bar is where locals and tourists are found at all times of day. The first category rooms are small and a bit tight for two people. Try the balcony studios or terrace rooms for something a bit more spacious. Condesa
La Valise In a superb location, this small boutique hotel put design and the guest experience first. The rooms are stunning, spacious and, one of them even allows you to push the king bed onto the patio (it’s incredible). Roma Norte
Las Alcobas While the location is not super convenient as it’s in the more upscale neighborhood of Polanco, this luxury boutique hotel is beautifully designed with lots of thought in each room and public areas. It’s going to be less of a lively hip place than the others on this list, but it could be good for a splurge trip or if you are looking for less of a scene. Polanco
Pollution As a crowded, congested city that’s surrounded by mountains, the pollution gets trapped and hangs like a cloud above the city (watch when you’re flying in).
Avoid Sundays/Mondays A lot of restaurants/bars are closed Sundays and Mondays, so plan your long weekend trip accordingly.
Tipping 15% is customary there.
Don’t Drink the Water Most places, even small taco stands, will use filtered water, but avoid drinking the tap water.
Meal Times Lunch is usually eaten later in the afternoon, around 2 to 3, and dinner, naturally, is later as well.
Mezcal Made from an agave plant, it can be mixed in cocktails like tequila, but, also like tequila, you’re going to want to sip on the really good ones. Mezcal is served with orange slices that are sprinkled with sal de gusano, a traditional Oaxacan spice.
Pulque A milky, fermented beverage that’s made from the sap of an agave plant. It can be very, very strong, so drink with caution.
Markets They are big in Mexico City and there are a lot of them. You can find delicious food inside, so go hungry if you want to explore. There does tend to be a lot of gimmicky stuff, so it’s hard to find good things.
Coyocoan Market Near the Frido Kahlo museum, this market is located in the more Bohemian part of town. Try eating in La Cucina di Mi Mama and buying some fresh tortillas at La Unica Tortilleria de Suprema Calidad across the street (you can watch them being made).
San Angel Market Held on Saturdays, this is near the San Angel Inn, which is a former monastery converted to a beautiful restaurant. It is touristy, but it’s traditional and beautiful, especially if you sit on the patio. If you go to the Frido Kahlo museum, it’s not a far ride so you can pair those together.
La Lagunilla Market It is far out of the city, but on Sundays it has a legit antique market (ask where the antiques are as the market is massive).
Xochimilco The canals of Mexico City that are decorated with beautiful, colorful boats that you can ride. It is touristy, but pretty if you want to head to the southern part of the city.
Centro Historico This is where the touristy, historic stuff is. It is also accompanied by hoards of people. If you go, check out El Cardenal for cabrito (goat specialty) for lunch; Downtown Mexico hotel complex that has an Azul, plus little shops. It’s a touch trendy but lively.